Social housing crisis looms warns Cusack

Shauna Cusack.
Shauna Cusack.

A councillor has urged people to have their say on radical changes the Department for Communities has warned may result in a huge fall in the number of social houses being built in Derry.

Two years ago the Office of National Statistics decided to reclassify Housing Associations - major landlords and house builders - as public bodies.

This means they will no longer be able to borrow as private organisations to fund house-building.

DfC warned: “The number of new social homes built each year in NI will be reduced significantly unless there was a significant increase in levels of funding allocated from the Executive’s Budget for the construction of new homes.”

To address an anticipated shortfall in social housing DfC is considering abolishing social tenants’ right to buy under House Sales Schemes. A consultation is open until September 24.

SDLP Colr. Shauna Cusack said: “Come March 2019 if the ONS reclassification is not reversed and they are reinstated as private or outside of government control, then the Associations, which are responsible for all social housing building here, may face a 50 per cent reduction in the construction of new homes.

“This is due to financial restrictions within the public purse as opposed to private organisations who can seek external funding. Over the last 20 years while the Housing Executives ability to build has been halted, Registered Housing Associations developed over 26,000 social homes.”

She urged people to respond to the consultation at www.communities-ni.gov.uk/consultations/classification-registered-housing-associations-northern-ireland-consultation-two-future-house-sales